A biblical argument against Friendship Evangelism

Akita Suggagaki

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And I guess, this is what kind of bugs me. Many churches now have more faith in their ability to make friends than they do in the life changing power of the Gospel said in its fullness.
The Gospel is also preached in every church every Sunday, is it not? But it is not always effective because of the delivery. Or perhaps it is distorted by a particular emphasis. I just think the joy of the preacher has to come through. A personal connection has to be made. Otherwise it is just a bunch of verses shotgunned at people. At least that has been my experience with poor evangelists. They pushed more people away than attracted them.
 
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1Tonne

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The Gospel is also preached in every church every Sunday, is it not?
Definitely not. I have been to many churches that do not preach the Gospel weekly. I would even go so far as to say most churches I have been too would not say the Gospel often. Infact, in one church I went to, I kept track of how many times the Gospel was said in a year. It was only said twice and when it was said, it was skimmed. And this church is the most popular in the town with the biggest congregation because it does friendship evangelism. It is just a big friendship group. This church is the same church that does a big light party in town and does not share the Gospel. It trusts that it can make friends with people and then bring them to church. (What a fat load of good that is making friends and bringing them to church if the pastor does not even say the Gospel)
Or perhaps it is distorted by a particular emphasis.
This is the case. It is distorted because churches are seeker friendly (friendship churches). They do not want people to be scared in anyway and so they do not want to point out the God will judge everyone, and that He will repay them one day. If they had more faith in the Gospel, then it would be said more, and the church would be equipping the believers to say the Gospel.
NOTE: Also, these types of churches can give a distorted view of God. They point out that God is loving and that He is merciful, but they do not mention that He has other attributes. Then when people hear that God is loving and merciful, they think to themselves, "If I do sin, it is OK. I can continue in sin, as I have a loving, forgiving God. It is OK"
He is loving and merciful, but he is also Holy, righteous and just.
Otherwise it is just a bunch of verses shotgunned at people. ...... They pushed more people away than attracted them.
This can be the case. A nonbeliever comes to church and hears a sermon, and it goes over his head. This happens. And I would say that it is not always the preacher's fault. There are things in the bible that an unbeliever will struggle to understand. Not all sermons should be targeted at unbelievers. There are many long-time believers that are still on milk because the churches do not want to offend or scare newcomers and so they suit the sermons for the newcomers. These are friendship churches. But in a good church, there will be a lot of teaching for those that need meat. Not milk. Then those that have meat will go out and say the Gospel. This will bring new believers into the church who has a desire to study their bible and pray. They will have an earnestness to do it. And so, these new believers do not need milk for too long.
A calf only has milk for a short time and then goes onto solids for the rest of its life. But in this day and age, a lot of fully grown believers are still on milk.
At least that has been my experience with poor evangelists. They pushed more people away than attracted them.
This can be the case. Jesus did say that the world hates him because he tells them how they fall short of Gods standards. And if an evangelist says the Gospel with the bad news, then people may hate it. But there may also be some whom it really sinks into.
 
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Soyeong

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Here is something I have been thinking about for some time now. Let me know your thoughts on it. First, I should probably say what I believe are the different types of evangelism that I am going to speak about.

Definitions:
Open Evangelism: When the Gospel is said within the first encounter. Often used in street evangelism, or in one-to-one evangelism in parks.
Friendship Evangelism: Where you create a relationship with the goal of eventually telling the Gospel to the person.
Relational Evangelism: Where you make a friend in your everyday life with no ulterior motive of sharing the Gospel. Such as meeting someone at work or school, and you become friends. Then, when the time is right, you tell them the Gospel.

Now onto the topic:
Sharing the Gospel can be a scary thing. The reason for this is, before you give the Good News, you should give the bad news first. So, show the sinner that they have broken Gods law. They have lied, stolen, blasphemed and done many other things that are against God. Show them that they are guilty and need a saviour. If we don't show them that they are guilty, then they will not see their need for a saviour. Then after we have shown them, we should tell them the Good News. So, show them the symptoms first of their illness, their condemnation, and then show them the cure. Then they should then run for the cure. By doing this you are being straight up and honest.
Open evangelism does this straight up. It is not hidden. It does not beat around the bush. And it is putting faith in the Gospel, that it has the power to bring people to salvation.

In friendship evangelism, our goal is to share the Gospel, but we do not want to let the unsaved person know that they are a sinner straight away. That would be offensive to show that they are a bad person, and it would not be conducive towards making a friend. So, we want to get alongside them and create a relationship. We get closer and closer to the person until we finally feel comfortable enough to say the Gospel. This, in a way, is deceptive friendship as your main goal is not to be the persons friend but to tell them the Gospel. The motive of the friendship is not straight up and true. It is hidden.

I recently read Proverbs 27:5 which pretty much says that we should be straight up. Here is the verse. "Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed."
So, my question is, is friendship evangelism being like love carefully concealed? Is it better to be honest and straight up?

I do realise that in life we do make friends, and often we do not tell them the Gospel straight away. But this is quite normal in life, and this is fine. In many instances, it is silly to say the Gospel straight away when you meet someone. I would hate to tell the Gospel at a job interview. So, in life we make friends naturally and then over time, we may get to tell the Gospel. This is real friendship, and it is real relational evangelism. So, no hidden agenda. But many churches have specialised in making friends with the hope that there will be a time to say the Gospel. They put this above saying the Gospel openly. Many churches even say that society has changed and so we need to do friendship evangelism now. They say that one to one in the parks does not work. It scares people away.

So, once again, is friendship evangelism being like love carefully concealed? Is it better to be honest and straight up? Are churches that are teaching friendship evangelism wrong for not putting enough faith in the power of the Gospel?
What would you say to some who responded to the bad news by saying that they aren't under the New Covenant, so they have no obligation to obey its law, they have no guilt for not obeying it, and therefore they have no need for a savior?

The Great Commission does not just call for us to spread the Gospel to all nations, but to make disciples of all nations, teaching them everything that Christ taught, and making disciples is forming relationships. It is a problem if someone spreads the Gospel, but does not continue to disciple them, and it is a problem if someone has no reason to continue being friends with someone after they have made it clear in no uncertain terms that they have no interest in listening to the Gospel. There are a lot of people who won't listen to the Gospel message if they don't see that we genuinely care about them and a lot of people who might feel convicted in the moment, but not continue down that path if they are not discipled.
 
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Richard T

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Is there a requirement to share the need to repentance first before one shares the good news? I never thought about this before. For John the Baptist yes, but what about Jesus? The woman at the well had prophecy about her life, only at the end did Jesus say go and sin no more. With the rich young ruler Jesus said sell everything. That was present tense. Some people are healed first then saved. I always just go with the Holy Spirit and do not have an exact plan. I do believe in friendship evangelism though and have seen people saved that way.
 
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1Tonne

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What would you say to some who responded to the bad news by saying that they aren't under the New Covenant, so they have no obligation to obey its law, they have no guilt for not obeying it, and therefore they have no need for a savior?
I guess you were meaning to say that they are under the new covenant. So, they have not obligation to obey the law.

We are not saved by obeying the law. We are saved by grace through believing in Him. But a sign that someone truly believes is that they will leave their sin. 2Tim 2:19 says "All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil."
Stopping sin is a result of real belief, and remorse and contrition. God desires a broken and contrite heart.
If I was to hit you and then say sorry, you would accept my apology. Then if I was to hit you the following day and then say sorry, you would begin to wonder if I was truly sorry. Then the day after this, I did the same thing, you would realise that I was not truly sorry. My words may say one thing, but my actions show another. What you act out is what you truly believe. If you are truly broken and contrite because you have sinned against God, then there will be a change in you. That is why the bible says that we are given a new heart and new mind. One that obeys Him. "I will give you a new heart and a new mind. I will take away your stubborn heart of stone and give you an obedient heart." Eze 36:26
Belief by itself will not save you. Even the demons believe.

It is a problem if someone spreads the Gospel, but does not continue to disciple them
Yes, we should also help with discipling a new believer if possible. But in many instances, we may not have the opportunity. Just like with when Philip spoke to the Ethiopian eunuch in his chariot. It says that Philip no longer saw him. So, there are times when we must trust that if God starts a work in someone, then He will complete it.
Jesus did not have time to disciple all the 5000 people that he fed.
So, I am not discounting relationships. They are good. But we need to make sure that we put the proclamation of the Gospel over friendship evangelism.
Is there a requirement to share the need to repentance first before one shares the good news? I never thought about this before. For John the Baptist yes, but what about Jesus? The woman at the well had prophecy about her life, only at the end did Jesus say go and sin no more. With the rich young ruler Jesus said sell everything. That was present tense. Some people are healed first then saved. I always just go with the Holy Spirit and do not have an exact plan. I do believe in friendship evangelism though and have seen people saved that way.
I don't talk about repentance first and then give someone the Gospel. I tell them about repentance once I have given them the Gospel.
But I do give them the law first. So, I show them their sins and then I tell them that one day God will judge everyone. This creates a fear of God in them and in Proverbs 9:10 it says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." And in Psalms 19:7 it says, "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;"
It is a bit like if a doctor just gave someone medicine (the Gospel) and said to take this medicine without giving any reason. The person receiving it would not take it as they believe they are fine. But if you show a person their x-rays (using the law) and show them the symptoms, and you tell them the serious consequences of not taking the medicine, then they will jump at the chance to take the medicine.

Also, if we do not use the law, then we can make weak believers. When persecution comes, they can fall away easily. But if someone has seen their sin truly for what it is, and they know that God will judge them one day, then when persecution comes, they will be less likely to fall away, because they know of the seriousness if they do. Proverbs 16:6 says, By the fear of the Lord, one departs from evil." And that fear will make you realise that you do not want to go against God. So, that fear is good. It is your friend.

If the law is preached first, it will help to make strong believers. They will not shrink back when times get hard.
A parable. Mark 4:16-17 says "And in a similar way these are the ones sown with seed on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and yet they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution occurs because of the word, immediately they fall away. "
If someone is shown their sin, they will have a broken and contrite heart. They will most likely even have tears because they have seen how they have dishonoured God and they have seen how big the sacrifice was that was done for them. But someone who has only been given the Good News without the bad news, will be filled with joy when they believe. Much like in this parable. Who would not be happy if all they were told is good stuff, like you are going to heaven? But in these people the root is weak, and they can shrink back once persecution happens. Because persecution is not like the blessing that they had been promised. So, the law helps to make a strong root.

Also just saw a new vid that has come out and it mentions about putting the law first. It mentions it at the start and then just after halfway it gets back into it. So, watch the whole thing. It is really interesting. Even the other stuff that is not related to this thread.
 
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Richard T

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I guess you were meaning to say that they are under the new covenant. So, they have not obligation to obey the law.

We are not saved by obeying the law. We are saved by grace through believing in Him. But a sign that someone truly believes is that they will leave their sin. 2Tim 2:19 says "All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil."
Stopping sin is a result of real belief, and remorse and contrition. God desires a broken and contrite heart.
If I was to hit you and then say sorry, you would accept my apology. Then if I was to hit you the following day and then say sorry, you would begin to wonder if I was truly sorry. Then the day after this, I did the same thing, you would realise that I was not truly sorry. My words may say one thing, but my actions show another. What you act out is what you truly believe. If you are truly broken and contrite because you have sinned against God, then there will be a change in you. That is why the bible says that we are given a new heart and new mind. One that obeys Him. "I will give you a new heart and a new mind. I will take away your stubborn heart of stone and give you an obedient heart." Eze 36:26
Belief by itself will not save you. Even the demons believe.


Yes, we should also help with discipling a new believer if possible. But in many instances, we may not have the opportunity. Just like with when Philip spoke to the Ethiopian eunuch in his chariot. It says that Philip no longer saw him. So, there are times when we must trust that if God starts a work in someone, then He will complete it.
Jesus did not have time to disciple all the 5000 people that he fed.
So, I am not discounting relationships. They are good. But we need to make sure that we put the proclamation of the Gospel over friendship evangelism.

I don't talk about repentance first and then give someone the Gospel. I tell them about repentance once I have given them the Gospel.
But I do give them the law first. So, I show them their sins and then I tell them that one day God will judge everyone. This creates a fear of God in them and in Proverbs 9:10 it says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." And in Psalms 19:7 it says, "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;"
It is a bit like if a doctor just gave someone medicine (the Gospel) and said to take this medicine without giving any reason. The person receiving it would not take it as they believe they are fine. But if you show a person their x-rays (using the law) and show them the symptoms, and you tell them the serious consequences of not taking the medicine, then they will jump at the chance to take the medicine.

Also, if we do not use the law, then we can make weak believers. When persecution comes, they can fall away easily. But if someone has seen their sin truly for what it is, and they know that God will judge them one day, then when persecution comes, they will be less likely to fall away, because they know of the seriousness if they do. Proverbs 16:16 says, By the fear of the Lord, one departs from evil." And that fear will make you realise that you do not want to go against God. So, that fear is good. It is your friend.

If the law is preached first, it will help to make strong believers. They will not shrink back when times get hard.
A parable. Mark 4:16-17 says "And in a similar way these are the ones sown with seed on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and yet they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution occurs because of the word, immediately they fall away. "
If someone is shown their sin, they will have a broken and contrite heart. They will most likely even have tears because they have seen how they have dishonoured God and they have seen how big the sacrifice was that was done for them. But someone who has only been given the Good News without the bad news, will be filled with joy when they believe. Much like in this parable. Who would not be happy if all they were told is good stuff, like you are going to heaven? But in these people the root is weak, and they can shrink back once persecution happens. Because persecution is not like the blessing that they had been promised. So, the law helps to make a strong root.

Also just saw a new vid that has come out and it mentions about putting the law first. It mentions it at the start and then just after halfway it gets back into it. So, watch the whole thing. It is really interesting. Even the other stuff that is not related to this thread.
Nice response but I'm uncertain what part of the law is even required? No way does everyone think about every sinful act. The main sin seems to be living a life apart from God.
 
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1Tonne

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Nice response but I'm uncertain what part of the law is even required? No way does everyone think about every sinful act. The main sin seems to be living a life apart from God.
God has written His law on our hearts. So, if we feel that something is wrong, don't do it. We know when we are dishonouring God. And we will never be perfect but luckily, we have Jesus who died for us.
 
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Richard T

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God has written His law on our hearts. So, if we feel that something is wrong, don't do it. We know when we are dishonouring God. And we will never be perfect but luckily, we have Jesus who died for us.
Thanks, that was what I was thinking but was not sure.
 
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Carl Emerson

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We do need to hear his voice. And if we ignore it, people may die.

Does this mean Gods plan of salvation for His elect depends on our performance as evangelists?

How can we ever be sure that anyone we fail to share the good news with, misses out on salvation because of us?
 
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1Tonne

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Does this mean Gods plan of salvation for His elect depends on our performance as evangelists?
Not going down the route of Calvinism vs Arminianism. We could be debating forever.
But I do believe we are to do as Jesus commanded.
We can only scatter the seed as Jesus said. It is He who creates the growth.
 
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Carl Emerson

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Not going down the route of Calvinism vs Arminianism. We could be debating forever.
But I do believe we are to do as Jesus commanded.
We can only scatter the seed as Jesus said. It is He who creates the growth.
This was your quote...

"We do need to hear his voice. And if we ignore it, people may die."

Sounds like you believe salvation depends on us...
 
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RDKirk

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Not going down the route of Calvinism vs Arminianism. We could be debating forever.
But I do believe we are to do as Jesus commanded.
We can only scatter the seed as Jesus said. It is He who creates the growth.
Regardless of the plans Jesus has for those beyond us, we do have a mission given us.

My theory is that "membership has its benefits" regardless the mercy Jesus may or may not bestow upon those beyond our reach.
 
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Carl Emerson

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Sounds like you think we just need to do nothing. Everyone will believe without a preacher. See Romans 10:14

On the contrary, I am active in sharing my faith as He leads.

You are it seems not willing to engage with questions that question your position.
 
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1Tonne

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Years ago David Wilkerson warned of this 'false gospel' spreading across the usa like a wildfire
I agree that there is a false Gospel out there. But I do think that the church I go to does actually say the true Gospel. They just say it in a way that is very weak though, and they prioritise friendships above speaking to the lost.
I believe that if we do not tell the fullness of Gods righteousness, His wrath, His justice, the wicked depravity of man and the horror of Hell, then we can downplay the glory of the Gospel and we can give a slanted view of God. Then the Gospel can lose its effectiveness.

"Think lightly of hell and you will think lightly of the cross." Charles Spurgeon.
"If you downplay the radical depravity of man, then you downplay the Glory of the Gospel." Paul Washer
"Preaching that downplays Gods wrath does not enhance true evangelism, it undermines it." John Mcarthur

This can be common. Churches can concertante on God's love, His forgiveness, His kindness without speaking too much on the other aspects of God. This gives a slanted view of God and so people will be less likely to leave their sin as they do not have a fear of Him. Afterall, why leave your sin if God is all loving and forgiving. And this is common in churches who do friendship evangelism. They speak about the nice attributes of God because they do not want to scare away those who are in the church who have only come for friendship.

"It is amazing that we hesitate to talk about the wrath of God, for fear of making sinners afraid. The fear they feel this side of the grave will be nothing compared to the fear they feel when they stand alone before Almighty God." Ray Comfort

"Doctor. You are too delicate to tell the man that he is ill. You hope to heal the sick without their knowing it. You therefore flatter them. Your delicacy is cruelty, your flatteries are poisons you are a murderer. Shall we keep men in a fool's paradise? Shall we lull them into soft slumber from which they will awake in hell? Are we to become helpers of their damnation by our smooth speeches? In the name of God we will not." Charles Spurgeon
 
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1Tonne

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You are it seems not willing to engage with questions that question your position.
You are bringing up a different topic. This is about evangelism while you want to talk about Calvinism. But there are plenty of long threads on this topic and so I do not feel the need to go down that route. It would highjack the thread.
 
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Carl Emerson

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Your claim that folks will go to hell if we do not go out there does put salvation in our hands not His.

He brings folks to faith without a human agent at times.

But hey, I am committed to sharing my faith and do often...

What worries me is that your presentation can result in folks getting the guilts and going out under obligation in the flesh with a fear motivation. The result will be to trample the harvest.

This is far from what Jesus intended - much better is to let belevers know they are living letters filled with His love and to teach them to walk in the Spirit - this results in being in the right place at the right time to possibly witness to one soul who will go on to impact the world and see many saved.

So our evangelism should be Christ Centred rather than 'lost soul centred'
 
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1Tonne

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Your claim that folks will go to hell if we do not go out there does put salvation in our hands not His.
We do have a responsibility. For one, Jesus commanded His disciples to go and preach the Gospel to all creation. And also, Romans 10:14. "How then are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed? How are they to believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?" If we do not speak, then how will they call on Him whom they have not believed?
So, we need to speak. If there are a thousand Christians around a non-believer, and they never speak of the Gospel, then how will the unbeliever know? He won't.
What worries me is that your presentation can result in folks getting the guilts and going out under obligation in the flesh with a fear motivation. The result will be to trample the harvest.
Does it matter what motivates a person to speak the Power of God unto salvation? (The Gospel)
You said you had been around Ray Comfort quite a bit. In one of his books, he said that if you are hesitant or worried to share because your motivation may be guilt, don't stop sharing. Continue to do it. At least people are still hearing the Gospel and you are obeying Him. Then pray that God gives you a greater love for Him and also the lost.
And really, personally, sometimes I do feel bad. I look at all the people perishing, and I think that I should be saying the Gospel more. What a great motivation.
If you know the good you ought to do, and do not do it, then it is sin. (James 4:17)
It is wrong when we choose to keep the Gospel to ourselves. So, for those believers that are doing this, there should be guilt. And hopefully this guilt will drive them to be more loving to the lost.
This is far from what Jesus intended - much better is to let belevers know they are living letters filled with His love and to teach them to walk in the Spirit - this results in being in the right place at the right time to possibly witness to one soul who will go on to impact the world and see many saved.
Walk in the spirit. Acts 1:8 "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.” Not just in the right place at the right time, but everywhere. And then in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit came down on the believers, the believers in the upper room spoke with boldness and clarity to all who were around.
So, walk in the Spirit and speak just as the early disciples did. Be his witnesses.
 
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